GDB 75.0: Walking Wounded

The Edmonton Oilers held an optional skate at practice yesterday. Skaters participating were four fringe major league defenceman, enforcer Luke Gazdic, and injured winger Nail Yakupov. It was, as the coach admitted afterward, a pretty good indication of the health of the team.

And baby, they already weren’t that strong.

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“We just thought it was better to keep most of the guys off the ice, put a few guys on and go from there,” Eakins told assembled reporters. “We’ve got a ton of guys right now that are banged up, and some guys that have been playing big minutes, and we have to do our best to keep them ready for the games.”

We touched on this yesterday, but Eakins was “fairly confident” that Tyler Pitlick would play Sunday against New York, but also passed on the news that Ryan Jones was done for the year and sounded pessimistic about a Yakupov return.

64-Yakupov-11

“He’s been out just over a week, so he’s going to need some practices for sure,” Eakins said. “But I know he still has some discomfort in there.”

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Expected Lineup

3.30.14 expected lines

There are a lot of different ways this could go; it’s even possible (if Pitlick proves unable to play) that the Oilers run four defence pairs and go with three forward lines plus Luke Gazdic.

Assuming an 11 forwards/seven defencemen split, my guess is that Anton Belov keeps playing (because he’s a right-side guy) and that Philip Larsen draws in as a power play specialist while Mark Fraser gets scratched.

Personally, I’d split Jeff Petry and Andrew Ference, who got the hard match against the Getzlaf line in the Anaheim game and got run over; they’re the two closest things the Oilers have to NHL shutdown guys but as a pair they don’t get results as good as Petry/Martin Marincin or even Petry/Ladislav Smid used to do.

Naturally, we’ll update this when more information becomes available.

Update: Ference isn’t playing, thanks to a chest injury, which means Fraser draws back in:

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Lottery Standings

Lotto standings

Even this year’s version of taking kicks to get high picks is boring. Edmonton’s going to be going into the draft favoured for either the second or third overall selection; Buffalo in first is out of reach (12 point gap) and so too are the New York Islanders in fourth (seven points). Woo hoo.

Predictions!

30-Scrivens-8

Game day prediction: New York had their five-game winning streak snapped by Calgary on Friday, but they’re still 25 points ahead of the Oilers. On the other hand, a) they’re an Eastern team and b) Scrivens is gonna Scrivens, so let’s call it 2-1 Edmonton.

Obvious game day prediction: Martin St. Louis hasn’t scored a goal in a baker’s dozen of games for New York. He finally pops in his 30th of the season tonight in Edmonton.

Not-so-obvious game day prediction: After the game, St. Louis is asked what enabled him to finally break the slump. He’ll laugh and say, “You know, it’s the weirdest thing. I was incredibly tense, but then I heard ‘The Last Saskatchewan Pirate’ play in the arena, and it was such a ridiculous song to play during a hockey game that I laughed and the tension went away.”

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RECENTLY BY JONATHAN WILLIS


  • The Last Big Bear

    Was often curious has to how players like Schultz or Larsen would do as forwards. Both good skaters, can play along the boards [somewhat], pass and shoot.

    Either would not measure up to power forwards standards,but then again that never stopped the Oilers.

    Burns made the transition, and it gave Sharks a quick fix for a power forward.

  • The real minnow

    Wowsers!!!!! Where has the time gone? Last time I looked the oilers could still sneak into 30th. Now? We are 12 points up!! Damnit!! We can’t even suck properly.
    Oh well atleast sometime this year we should be getting summer. Maybe…

  • JW,

    Would you consider this trade proposal.

    Edmonton gets the #2 pick in the draft and Ekblad is still available.

    You trade that pick to Philly for Sean C and a 2nd rd pick 2014. Philly has been looking for their next Pronged

    • The Oilers really, really need defence, but I’m a little torn because Sean Couturier is so excellent, and he’s good right now as opposed to at some point in the future.

      I lean towards retaining the No. 2 pick because the simple fact is that the blue line is a disaster and it’s going to be hard to fix that externally.

      • a lg dubl dubl

        Fair points. But we have enough D prospects and if we keep developing our left hand guys and sign a guy like stralman who is right handed that will help.

        I’d personally pull the trigger on that trade. Then use eberle + 2015 1st plus marincin/klefbom to get a top pairing guy. Say McDonagh. Remember St. Louis doesn’t have a lot of time left. Eberle is a good replacement. I’d even try to add jt miller.

        Than move gagner for a gritty winger with size for the top 9.

        • a lg dubl dubl

          I don’t see the Flyers do that deal just because SC is still on the cheap for the next few years. Only way your trade happens is if Holmgren loses his marbles again and signs a FA to a massive contract and needs to get under the cap again.

      • Lofty

        I would love to see the 2015 1st rounder moved to fill a hole at the draft. I think it would be a statement to the players and fans that this is the end of going after lottery picks and sucking being acceptable.

        • toprightcorner

          Agree absolutely. But only if it can bring a player who can play now.

          Draft picks next year are going to be valuable trading pieces. A team like Buffalo would find that pick hugely more valuable than a pick this year.

          That why I see them loading up for next years draft. The Isles pick will fall to them next year. They may yet wind up with St Louis’s number 1 pick this year. They could flip that for a pick in next years draft.

          Buffalo is in enviable position with 2 franchise players available next year. They take a Rheinhart this year and a McDavid next assuming they suck just as much next year which we all believe they will. Under the heading of Tanking there will be the Sabers.

          They could sit pretty next year conceivably with 3 first round picks.Play thier cards right and their odds of getting one of the 2 players is going to be really good.

          The Oilers need an Eckblad if they can get him. My concern is this. Florida could use him too. They have Barkov and Bujstadt, Huberdeau and Gudbradson. Do they go with another center or take the D?

          The Oilers drop to 3rd they have to take Draisatl.If they pick second ????

  • a lg dubl dubl

    Im torn between seeing Drasitil and Ekblad getting drafted by the Oilers, on one hand the team needs another center that can come in and play in the 2c spot(in a yr or 2) or getting another tower on the defence to go with Nurse and Marincin.

  • a lg dubl dubl

    Im also of the mind that MacT should go out and get Stastny in the summer, 8.5/ 3yrs? bit of an over payment on a guy that puts the same points up as Gagner, but is better suited for the 2c spot for the short term while Drasitil develops, if Mac does draft LD.

  • vetinari

    The draft is our main ticket out of this mess and we should likely be able to get a shot at either Ekblad or Drasitil to fill one of our big needs.

    The key will be what MacT is able to turn over on our roster from trades after we draft for needs.

    If we take Eklbad and he looks ready to join the Oilers within the next two seasons, I would pursue a bridge deal with Petry (2-4 years) and consider trading Petry once Nurse and Ekblad join the big club. Schultz seems to be in for the long haul so look to lock him up long term (5-7 years) and fill out next year’s roster with one veteran defenceman (like Markov) on a long term deal and at least two other veteran defencemen on short to mid term deals (1 to 3 years) even if you have to do a bit of an overpay.

    Likewise, if we get Drasitil, Gagner would likely become trade bait. We’ll need to package him up with some other assets to get some size into the lineup but don’t expect 40-80 point scorers in return– at this point, he’ll likely only land you a physical/checking forward and maybe a pick or prospect.

      • toprightcorner

        I don’t think either Nurse nor Ekblad should graduate next year. Even if you have one of MArincin or Klefbom (I am hoping not both), this defense will not improve by putting another rookie in the mix unless they get two veteran high quality top pairing defenseman which would require getting rid of either Schultz or Petry.

        For those that want to draft Eklad and have him and Nurse play on the Oilers next year, here is your defence.

        Schultz/Marincin – Ference/Ekblad – Nurse/Klefbom

        That is the defence if we want to play all of the young guys and would probably be ther wors defence lineup in NHL History.

        Addition/Petry – Schultz/Marincin – Ference/Ekblad
        Thats barely an improvement over this year even with a vet added and Klefbom in the minors

        Petry/Marincin – Schultz/Klefbom – Ference/(Eklbad or Nurse)
        That is much worse than this year

        2014/15 prefered list (will stick in players of the talent required not the specific players they should get)

        Josi/Petry – Orpik/Schultz – Ference/Marincin

        Nurse – Junior
        Ekblad – Junior
        Klefbom – Traded or AHL
        Simpson – AHL
        Gernat – AHL
        This is an improved defense

        2015/16
        Josi/Schultz – Orpik/Marincin – Ference/Nurse

        Petry – traded to make room for Nurse
        Ekblad – Junior
        Klefbom – if still in AHL likely traded
        Gernat – traded
        Simpson – AHL
        Simpson firstcall up

        2016/2017
        Josi/Marincin – Nurse/Schultz – Orpik/Ekblad

        Ference – Traded to cup contender that summer or during season, if during season, Ekblad will have to play a bit in AHL
        Simpson – First for call up.

        You cannot pay 2 defence rookies in the same season and expect to compete unless you have a top 4 like Chicago or St Louis.

        Even if Simpson and Gernat becacome good players that can handle NHL games, there is no room for them so likely wasted in a trade.

        Selecting Ekblad will cause too many young deenceman at the same time. Sure you can trade but that is because there is no choice but your wasting an asset when you could have be developing a different asset.

        SELECTING EKBLAD WOULD BE A BAD IDEA. That pick could be much better as a trading asset to fill other holes. Dont need to draft a new forward either, we have a bunch between ages 19 – 23 that are still developing. Wait until deeper 2015 to get big forwards.

        Having too many defence prospects is a great thinkg when drying to improve that position but you can’t handle potentially 5 rookies ready to make jump to NHL.

        Marincin, Klefbom, Nurse, Simpsom, Ekblad would all be trying to get on the roster next year. Maximum 1 rookie per year for a maximum of 2 years in a row and 3 out of 4 years and 5 out of 7 years. The Oilers problem is too many young less experienced players, they need higher quality vets on the team and trading for Ekblad turns a fantastic trading chip into an even bigger problem a couple years in the future.

  • Word to the Bird

    Limping right to the bitter end. It’s scary to think how badly we would get murdered if we ever met a team like the Kings in a physical playoff series.

  • ubermiguel

    If we dress the same top 6 we finish bottom 5.

    If we trade gagner and insert draisaitl, we finish bottom 5.

    If we draft ekblad and put him in the lineup, we finish bottom 5

    Only way out is to trade eberle, gagner and maaaaybe the pick if the value is there. Value will be there on eberle, but gagner not so much.

    I’m ok with keeping the pick but one of eberle and yak has to go and so does gagner. Eberle has more value than yak and yak likely ends up the better player.

    • Cold Hard Truth

      Yak will be the better player? What? Based on what? Eberle is on pace for a 63 point season and maybe 28 goals.Not bad considering how this team has seesawed all year long.

      You’d be a fool to trade Eberle for a Coke Machine who gets 10-15 goals and 40 points a year.

      • When did Eberle start in the NHL and how old is he now?

        Compare apples to apples. The point is well made, Ebs had great value now, and we need value to fill our holes. Yak right now had marginal value however his ceiling is quite high. As he develops, it is likely he will be a better player than Eberle is now… Oh. And he’ll hit, stick up for his teammates and Yak slide the heck out of Rexall ice.

        So, unless you’re getting Seth Jones for Yak, you move Eberle for a more developed well rounded #2 d man. And you hope Yak turns that one-timer into a real weapon and that he continues to develop a defensive game that the majority of the top 6 on this team lacks.

      • toprightcorner

        Who said coke machine> We are not talking Jacques here. If Eberle gets us a top pairing dman like Josi or a big 2 way veteran like Dubinsky or Handzal, I do that deal.

        I would take a 18 goal and 40 point guy like Brouwer any day in the top 6 to replace Ebs if he gets us something good in return.

  • ubermiguel

    Jonathan, thank you, thank you, thank you.

    When I was in high school, I took a drama class where the other students played a bunch of stuff of the radio that did little but annoy me. Lots of contemporary rap, hip-hop and generally music that I was thought was shallow, brash and obnoxious.

    Except this one song that went something like “baby, I’m not that strong”. It was the only song I can recall liking and I still have no idea how it ended up on the playlist. However, I couldn’t find it, because I didn’t know the actual title of the song or who had sung it.

    I appreciate finally having the name of the artist and the track. It only took eight years, but finally something redeemable from high school!

    • ubermiguel

      ????? The only High School Drama reference allowed here is that Gregors sister was in my Drama class and I’ve already mentioned it. So take it to the The Tea Party forum…there papermache.

      • Cold Hard Truth

        Heh. Probably one of the best classes I had, other than the musical selection they normally had there. Although, talking about the pain and suffering of one’s youth seems a mere hop and skip away from the pain of watching the Oilers youth movement. They seem thematically linked, no?

        What is there to say about the Oilers? They are a really bad team that has had much better goaltending? What else is new?

  • Cold Hard Truth

    “It was, as the coach admitted afterward, a pretty good indication of the health of the team.”

    When I read this I initially thought Willis was using the ‘health of the team’ in a psychological or metaphorical sense. Then I thought “here we go, Willis is going to call it like it is.”

    Then I read a little further and realized Willis was being literal when you meant “health of the team”. Then I realized Willis is already preparing excuses and apologizing for the team even before they lose.

  • Mo Playoffs Mo Problems

    Does Sam Gagner ever move his feet?

    His defence consists of: watch puck, plant feet like 2 cinderblocks, wave stick at puck, chew on mouthguard as opponent blows by.

    • Lofty

      There’s more than a few guys doing it but I’ve noticed Lander do the same thing more than a few times tonight. I don’t mean gliding, I mean standing in one spot, not moving at all.

      Right after the training staff finishes checking Eakins for a pulse they’ll get to the players.

  • Lofty

    Looks like the Zamboni driver didnt do a very good job cleaning the ice, five minutes in and the ice looks so much cleaner in the New York end than the oilers end

  • Arius Mumin

    Banged up team?

    What a sorry @$$ excuse, what a sorry @$$ coach, what a sorry @$$ team.?

    Banged up? Come now. Two of the few players are actually banged up; Yakupov and Fasth.

    It was Saturday night and Ebrle and Co. had a night out, there was no way they were coming in.

    What exactly are the players banged up from? Most of them don’t even engage into any physical battles anyway. There schedule hasn’t been that tough.

    The inmates run this asylum.

  • Arius Mumin

    Wow. What a PP?

    First, Hall misses on a soccer net with his one timer, then, Gagner coasts back in hopes that fortune will favour him once Schultz misses the puck. Fortune does not like Gagner and he wasn’t in position or mood to hussle or play defence. You know the rest.